China Defends Food Import Controls as Way to Prevent COVID-19 Spread

Nov 20, 2020 10:33 AM EST | By Kristine M. (

The Chinese government recently created anti-coronavirus controls that have disrupted food imports from the United States, New Zealand, and other trade partners.

According to reports from the Independent, just this Wednesday, China released a statement defending the food import protocols they established and claimed that it was a strategy to curb the spread of COVID19. The said protocols caused disruptions on poultry, beef, and fish from the U.S., New Zealand, other partners in trade.

China's Foreign Ministry Spokesman, Zhao Lijian, said that the protocols are reasonable and justifiable in order to protect public health.

Chinese customs officials claim that coronavirus had been detected on frozen meat and food packaging. It is for this reason that temporary suspensions on some suppliers were imposed. 

Zhao added that the measures taken by China were necessary in order to protect people's health and make people's lives a priority. 

China's Food Importation Protocols

According to China Briefing, because of the increasing number of cases of COVID-19 related to frozen food, China's State Council released a circular work plan of disinfection of cold chain food. This states that the imported cold chain food is required to undergo thorough preventive disinfection before domestic personnel can handle them.

China Explains That Food Import Controls Is A Way To Prevent The Spread Of Covid-19
(Photo : Getty images / Lintao Zhang )

Customs officials are mandated to strengthen the testing process for cold chain food using certain risk levels. If the cold chain food is found to be positive with coronavirus, it will be returned and should be destroyed according to the set regulations.

Meanwhile, if the test turns out to be negative, preventive disinfection will take place.

Read also: Can Frozen Food Packaging Keep Coronavirus Alive?

The preventive inspection will be done by the port inspection, transportation, sorting, warehousing, wholesale, and retail handlers.

Additionally, this requirement should be done prior to domestic personnel handling the cold chain food. However, in principle, a single but thorough disinfection process must be carried out for transportation and packaging. 

This is to prevent multiple disinfection and avoid unnecessary operational costs. A detailed record of the disinfection work must be maintained by the disinfection unit.

The records should include the disinfection date, place of disinfection, personnel involved, the object that was disinfected, name of disinfectant used, its concentration, and many more.

Disrupted Food Imports

It was reported that China imported US$15.3 billion worth of meat and meat products during the first half of 2020. This showed an increase of 103.2 % compared to the same period of the previous year. However, a significant change came after health and safety challenges emerged out of the COVID-19 pandemic.

China Explains That Food Import Controls Is A Way To Prevent The Spread Of Covid-19
(Photo : Unsplash / Macau Photo Agency)

Consequently, disruptions in operations were reported by many meat processing firms worldwide. Additionally, some countries have suspended their exports to China, either voluntarily or as mandated by the Chinese government.

As a result, many meat exporters find themselves in a dilemma between missing out on business opportunities and China's stringent import controls.

Many trade partners of China are expressing dismay over the import protocols since many assumed that the regulations were stricter due to the ongoing pandemic.

However, some say that exporters might not just be familiar with the actual rules stipulated.

Related article: Newly Discovered Compound Found in These Foods May Help Fight Coronavirus

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